June 01, 2022

Gillibrand Delivers Keynote Speech At Memorial Day Naturalization Ceremony

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Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand delivered the keynote address at a special Memorial Day naturalization ceremony welcoming 102 new citizens. The citizenship candidates originate from 38 countries and include several current members of the U.S. military.

Read Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery below:

Congratulations and welcome! We are so blessed to have all of you joining us as citizens of the United States. Thank you to those of you who have made this momentous occasion possible, especially Laura DeMayo, Master of Ceremony & Chief of Staff for the USCIS New York District Office, and Scott Velez, Deputy District Director for the USCIS New York District Office.

And thank you to all of you for your determination and hard work, which has brought you to this transformative moment in your lives today. I think I speak for all of us here when I say we are so grateful to each of you for dedicating your many ideas, skills, and gifts in service to our county.

Through persistence and perseverance you have made the American Dream your reality. And with tremendous courage and strength you have shown what it is to truly be an American citizen. Many of you have worked in so many different ways to serve the community that welcomed you. And as we are celebrating our service members this week, I especially want to thank all of you who have put your own lives on the line to give back to the nation you now call home.

 

One of you, Specialist Xilenie Faulkner Cortorreal, joined our Army Reserves to demonstrate to the world that women can be soldiers and protect America too. Not only that, but she has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and plans to pursue a master’s degree in business management. I am so proud of all that she has achieved and grateful for the incredible talent she is bringing to our country.

Private Second Class Harouna Sorgho joined the Army Reserves to serve and protect his country too. He has a master’s degree in law from the University of Ouaga II in Burkina Faso and plans on obtaining an equivalent master’s degree in the United States.

Justice and the rule of law are things we value very highly in the United States and I know that Private Second Class Sorgho’s contributions to this field are more than welcome. There is not enough time to mention every one of our fantastic service members becoming citizens today, but I do also want to mention Specialist Eliezer Eugenio Richiez Paredes who will be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and speaking a little more about his experience a bit later. Specialist Richiez came to the United States when he was only nine years old. As he serves in our Army National Guard he is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. I know that he has and will continue to gain some excellent experience serving in the National Guard.

And I hope that when he returns from his future deployment he will use his political knowledge to work in public service. Perhaps someday he might even consider applying for a fellowship in my Senate office!

As you may know, I am chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, which means it’s my job to advocate for the health, safety, and morale of all our service members and their families. I fight for more funding to improve housing on military bases, expanded child care options, and to reform the military justice system. And so I have the opportunity to work with many of our service members on a daily basis. But something that has always stood out to me is just how selfless and generous our military service members truly are.

Their commitment to this country and our communities knows no bounds and their dedication to giving back is evident throughout their lives. Giving back is something that is central to what it means to be an American citizen. Which is why we value civic engagement and participation in our democracy so highly. So even for those of us who are civilians, we share a profound duty to be active in our communities, to participate in jury duty, and to vote in our elections. America is a nation that is defined not only by what we are, but also by what we can become. Which is why we need every one of you to contribute to our future and continue making America the best that it can be.